Refinishing Bamboo Floors | a Complete “How to” Guide

by Team MD


Bamboo floors are rather popular because of their appealing design and the fact that they are water and moisture resistant. If `can you refinish bamboo floors`, is a question that interests you, this article can provide you with all the answers that you need. 


Can bamboo floors be refinished?

No matter how careful you are to avoid scratching and deteriorating your bamboo floors, chances are that, in time, they will get damaged. Once the scratches are made, dirt and dust usually deposits into them and, as a result, your flooring loses its beautiful finish that you love so much.

A simple solution that you can opt for when this happens is to refinish them. However, it is worth pointing out that not all specialists agree that sanding and refinishing floors made of bamboo is a good idea. Refinishing engineered bamboo flooring is not possible. 

Even though some types of bamboo that are used in the making of floors are as durable as oak, the problem is not with the sturdiness of the grass, but rather with the adhesives that are utilized in the manufacturing process.

When you sand some brands of bamboo flooring, there is a risk that this will raise splinters that will remain even after you finish refining the floor. Moreover, a byproduct of this product is also the release of volatile organic compounds that are created because of the chemicals utilized in making the adhesives that are normally used to bind the fibers together.

While it is important to consider these factors, most manufacturers argue that bamboo floors can be safely refinished by utilizing the same techniques one would opt for when refinishing hardwood floors.

If you have floors made of thin bamboo, they should be refined with extra care and they should only be sanded lightly to avoid damaging the grass. If your floors are made of higher quality bamboo, that is thicker, you can refinish and sand them more than once.


Do I really need to refinish my flooring?

Depending on how your flooring looks, you might not need to completely refinish it. For instance, if you can only notice scratches on high-traffic areas, it is advisable that you only focus on them. In such cases, you can actually restore the flooring without needing to do any sanding.

This process is known as screen and recoat and it implies the use of a floor buffer and a sanding screen. After you are done, remember to apply at least two coats of finish. 

One benefit of this process is the fact that, because it does not involve the use of sanding, no splinters will appear, and, on top of that, no VOCs will be created. Therefore, in a way, it is safe to say that sanding and screen is a rather safe process. 


How to refinish your bamboo floors

There are a couple of steps that you have to take when refinishing bamboo floors. To start, you have to remove the old finish by sanding the flooring with medium grit. To make sure that all the old finish comes off, you have to apply a little bit of pressure. Still, remember that, if you use too much force, there is a chance that you will damage the flooring.

Next, it is recommended that you use a mild cleaner to wash the flooring. By using grain sandpaper, remove the shallow scratches that are left behind. Then, cover the bamboo floor with polyurethane.

Another important step that you should not overlook is refining the deep gouges left. Before you can do so, you will have to invest in a wood filler that can closely match the color of your bamboo flooring. Use the filler to fill up the scratches and the other gouges in the floor. Once the filling is done, take the time to remove the excess wood filler so that you are left behind with a smooth surface. Still, before you can sand the floor, it is vital that you allow the filler to dry completely. 

After you are done sanding the floors, it is time to apply a layer of wood stain on the areas where you had to fill in scratches. Next, apply a finish that you like, and, once the finish has dried use a polyurethane sealant. This substance is very practical because it is durable and, thus, it will make your flooring durable to future damage. A second coat might be needed to ensure that the flooring is as thick as necessary.


Pros of bamboo flooring

Bamboo is different from other materials utilized in making flooring because it is a type of grass. However, this aspect does not affect the durability of bamboo. Flooring made of this grass is known for being able to last as long as floors made of wood. 

Bamboo flooring is a perfect choice for those interested in flooring that is modern looking as well as clean in its design and elegance. Even though bamboo flooring is not very different from hardwood flooring, the distinctions between the two are visible. 

Another appealing plus of flooring made of bamboo is its versatility. You can now find bamboo flooring in a wide array of colors and styles. Hence, you will surely be able to purchase one that best suits your preferences.

Moreover, it is worth pointing out that bamboo flooring is eco-friendly. Given that bamboo is a type of grass that reaches maturity within 5 to 7 years, this material is considered by many a more sustainable alternative to traditional wood. 

If you are ecologically conscious, another reason why you might feel interested in getting bamboo flooring is the fact that it is made of natural materials. This type of flooring is also very easy to clean and it can be refinished whenever you start noticing scratches or deterioration. To maintain this kind of flooring, you need to vacuum it regularly and to clean it with a damp mop, or with special cleansers that are non-wax and non-alkaline. 

Last but not least, you should also know that, when compared to other materials that are utilized for making flooring, bamboo is a very budget-friendly alternative. 


Cons of bamboo flooring

Apart from the many benefits, there are also several cons that you should be aware of before investing in it.

First things first, it should be noted that low quality bamboo floors are prone to get scratched easily. Depending on the size of the planks used to construct your flooring, there is also a possibility that, in case of low or high humidity, they will crack. 

Moreover, even though it is much more water-resistant than other materials, too much moisture can cause mold growth, discoloration, and other similar issues. This is why it is not recommended that you use this sort of flooring in your bathroom or your storage areas. 

Secondly, un-carbonized carbon is much more durable than darker bamboo. So, if you guide your choice of a product on just aesthetics, you might risk ending up with flooring that is too soft and weak. 

Thirdly, some types of bamboo contain high amounts of toxic substances that might affect your health. To avoid having to deal with this issue, it is recommended that you verify whether or not the product that you select has received a certification from the Forest Stewardship Council.

Lastly, while bamboo is considered a natural, eco-friendly material, in recent years, some have spoken against the use of irresponsible forestry practices that can affect the environment. By this, we refer to the use of chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides that are utilized to help this grass reach full maturity faster. 


Bamboo flooring and formaldehyde

As we have mentioned before, bamboo flooring can contain urea-formaldehyde, a chemical substance that is usually utilized in making resin-based adhesives. Still, it is worth adding that not all products of this sort are made using the same amount of urea-formaldehyde. In the case of higher quality models, manufacturers often opt for utilizing alternative adhesives that are manufactured using safer materials.

If formaldehyde is present in the air at certain levels, some people might experience some side effects, including watery eyes, coughing, nausea, skin irritations, wheezing, and a burning sensation in the throat, nose and the eyes. 

If this aspect concerns you, one thing that you can do is to invest in products that are labeled as formaldehyde-free.


Where can I use bamboo flooring in my home?

Because of its durability, bamboo flooring can be used throughout one’s home. In high-traffic areas such as your hallway or the living spaces in your home, it is recommended that you use strand woven bamboo, as it is, according to some, twice as durable as hardwood. 

However, you should never opt to install bamboo flooring in your bathroom, or other moist areas, as this will cause the material to get damaged. Given the sturdiness of bamboo, you can also use it with underfloor heating systems, as this will not affect the integrity of the flooring.



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